Mark Mothersbaugh rose to cult stardom as the bespectacled frontman of new wave pioneers Devo before becoming an unlikely Hollywood mainstay after reinventing himself as an in-demand soundtrack composer, a role in which he found even greater success.
Born in Akron, OH, in 1950, Mothersbaugh's versatile career began when he met musicians Jerry Casale and Bob Lewis while studying art at Kent State University in 1970. Taking their name from their 'de-evolution' concept, which argued that mankind has regressed rather than evolved, the trio officially formed Devo three years later and following various line-up changes, signed to Warner Bros in 1978. A major creative force within the band, Mothersbaugh undoubtedly helped to shape the influential blend of robotic synth-pop, arresting futuristic visuals and extensive use of irony which transformed them into cult favorites at the start of the '80s and spawned a surprise US Top 20 hit with the single "Whip It." But Mothersbaugh soon began to explore different avenues, working on the score to the bizarre Neil Young comedy "Human Highway" (1982) that he also played a nuclear garbage man in, writing the theme tune to "Pee Wee's Playhouse" (CBS 1986-1990) and releasing a brace of ambient instrumental albums before Devo's 1991 split allowed him to pursue these extra-curricular activities full-time. Mothersbaugh initially focused his attention on scoring children's TV, most notably the animated video game adaptation of "Super Mario World" (NBC 1991) and the cult favorite "Rugrats" (Nickelodeon 1991-2004), whose character of Chuckie was reportedly designed with Mothersbaugh in mind.
But after making his mark on the video game world with the music for "Crash Bandicoot," Mothersbaugh started to do the same on the big screen with his work on "Happy Gilmore" (1996), "The Last Supper" (1996) and "Bottle Rocket" (1996), the last of which saw him strike up a partnership with director Wes Anderson which would result in further collaborations on "Rushmore" (1998), "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) and "The Life Aquatic" (2004). Continuing to build up his Mutato Muzika production company's portfolio, Mothersbaugh composed soundtracks for everything from fluffy rom-com "A Guy Thing" (2003) to hard-hitting indie "Thirteen" (2004) to skater biopic "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), wrote the theme tunes to polygamy-based drama "Big Love" (HBO 2006-2011) and sci-fi hit "Eureka" (Syfy 2006-2012) and also provided the distinctive background music for Apple's award-winning "Get A Mac" commercials. While having previously landed minor roles in comedy "The Spirit Of '76" (1990) and superhero pastiche "Mystery Men" (1999), Mothersbaugh appeared in front of the camera again when he hosted the drawing segments on children's series "Yo Gabba Gabba!" (Nickelodeon 2007-). After returning to the studio with Devo for the first time in twenty years on 2010's Something For Everybody, Mothersbaugh worked on a number of box-office hits including "Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (2011), "21 Jump Street" (2012) and "Hotel Transylvania" (2012) as well as critically-acclaimed small-screen dramas "House Of Lies" (Showtime, 2012-), "Shameless" (Showtime, 2011-) and "Enlightened" (HBO 2011-2013). After appearing in an episode of "The Aquabats! Super Show!" (Hub Network, 2012-), a side project from the creators of "Yo Gabba Gabba," Mothersbaugh reached the Billboard Top 50 with his soundtrack for "The Lego Movie" (2014), featuring the Mothersbaugh-penned hit single "Everything Is Awesome!" featuring vocals by Tegan & Sara with The Lonely Island.
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Forms new wave pioneers Devo
Scores first movie, "Human Highway"
Composes theme tune to "Rugrats" (Nickelodeon, 1991-2004)
Works with Wes Anderson for first time on "Bottle Rocket"
Reaches Billboard Top 50 with "The Lego Movie" soundtrack